Thanks to all of you for your kind words! This forum has really helped me to re-build in the fastest and most thoughtful way possible.
Every single open card that I now have is brand-new, opened in Sept. 2012 or later. I've since closed out both of my high annual fee / low limit HSBC cards (one had an annual fee of $79 for $520 in credit, but Cap 1 would not waive or reduce the fee)! Unfortunately, they were 7-8 year old lines, but I wasn't willing to pay $145 annually, for the rest of my life, for zilch, really.
I've app'd recently because I have a dark cloud looming over my credit score future, and I wanted to get every card that I'd always coveted now, before I have to take the inevitable hit and tumble (you see, I defaulted on my student loans SOOOOO long ago that they actually quit reporting, have 2 more rehab payments left and then I will exit default and my $38K in loans will be reappearing on my report by May marked "paying as agreed," as though nothing ever happened---but $38k IS a lot of money to owe back, and so I do expect a big drop when that happens.
It's been great riding through 700-land, though!
All 3 bureaus (per Amex CreditSecure FAKO) are still 748 (as of 12/19/13). Cards: Discover It, $12,100, Chase Freedom $3,300, Chase Amazon $1,500, Walmart store $11,000, AMEX Zync NPSL, Costco Amex $14,700. US. Bank Cash +, $5,000. AMEX SPG $6,000, PenFed Plat. Cash Rewards $17,500, PenFed P-LOC $10,000, Citi Forward $5,100, Chase Slate $5,000, Old Navy, $2,200.